Following the Scottish independence referendum, the Smith Commission recommended that power over elements of welfare and social security be devolved to Scotland.

These powers were confirmed in the Scotland Act 2016 and on the 29th of July the Scottish Government launched a consultation document, A New Future for Social Security in Scotland.  Responses are to be submitted by the 28th of October and there are many related events and meetings being organised to assist people to share their views.

As a policy collaboration DAS is taking active steps towards producing its own robust response. We recently held a seminar to discuss our response and each member's organisation is currently canvassing the disabled people they support to formulate their own responses which will in turn inform the collaborative DAS response.

Outside of these devolved powers much of the welfare and social security portfolio remains a reserved matter (UK) and DAS regularly monitors developments and responds where appropriate to consultations. Recently DAS also submitted a response to the UK Government's Inquiry into the Future of Jobcentre Plus, the response can be read here

The importance of welfare and social security to people with disabilities.

Not all disabled people are on benefits, but people affected by disability have been disproportionately affected by many of the changes to welfare in recent years1. Further devolution of an array of disability benefits and employment programmes as well as taxation powers brings both challenges and opportunities.

Disabled people often face extra financial costs such as heating, laundry, transport, care and therapy charges which, taken together, can average as much as £550 per month2. Benefits should support all citizens, when required, including ensuring those who are disabled, due to a physical, learning, sensory or mental health issue can live as independently as practically possible and fulfil their true potential. DAS believes there is an opportunity for positive welfare reform to bring about a genuine system of social security which is enabling and underpinned by a commitment to human rights, dignity and respect. A ‘cut price’ welfare system is a false economy in the form of social exclusion, lost talent and added pressure on other public services, especially health and social care, as well as other costs of inequality.

"Life is hard enough without putting obstacles in our way" (RNIB Focus Group)

"They think because we are disabled we shouldn’t be entitled to benefits. It feels like they want to get rid of disabled people. The government should be supporting people with learning disabilities" (Enable Focus group)

DAS is calling on all Scottish Parliament candidates for the 2016 elections and other people and organisations to seize the opportunity presented by the devolution of parts of the social security system to design and deliver a system that empowers disabled people and recognises everyone’s contribution and value to society.

1 Financial Impact of Welfare Reforms on People in Scotland, Scottish Government, Aug 2014.

2 ‘Priced Out: ending the financial penalty of disability by 2020’, Scope, April 2014.

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